Treatment delay associated with alternative medicine use among veterans with head and neck cancer

Greg E. Davis, Chris L. Bryson, Bevan Yueh, Mary B. McDonell, Mark A. Micek, Stephan D. Fihn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Background. Use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is increasing in the United States. This study investigates whether the use of alternative medicine is associated with a delay of treatment in head and neck cancer. Methods. This study used the records obtained from a large trial involving ambulatory care US veterans. Subjects completed a CAM utilization questionnaire. The primary outcome variable was the time duration from cancer diagnosis to the time of cancer treatment. Results. Of veterans with head and neck cancer, 51% reported using some form of CAM, whereas 23% reported using a therapy classified as alternative medicine. Patients who used alternative medicine significantly delayed cancer treatment by 22 days compared with those who did not use alternative medicine (p = .05, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0-44 days). Conclusions. CAM use is common in veterans with head and neck cancer. Use of alternative medicine was associated with a significant delay in cancer treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)926-931
Number of pages6
JournalHead and Neck
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2006


  • Alternative medicine
  • Complementary medicine
  • Delay of treatment
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Veterans


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